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Be Relaxed and Stay Open


When I was seventeen years old, I was on a retreat for the preliminary practices of the Great Perfection—called Dzogchen in Tibetan—under the guidance of Khenpo Tsewang Jigme. Both excited and nervous, I meditated in my small room day and night without sleep.

Initially, it went well. But soon obstacles arose when I started to meditate on the impermanence of life. Sitting in the same posture for quite some time, my body became tense and rigid. Contemplating impermanence also depressed me. Both my physical and mental states were not conducive to mental clarity, and signs of spiritual progress failed to emerge. I was both mortified and anxious.

One day, in a daze, I went out of my room aimlessly despite being in retreat, hoping to ease my anxiety. When Khenpo Tsewang Jigme heard about it, he called me over. “My boy,” he said, “you should open the window and simply gaze into the vast, tranquil sky. Try to relax yourself as much as possible while doing so. Let your mind slowly dissolve into the sky and just rest there.” I did accordingly and was soon out of the quandary, experiencing at last the absolute nature of the mind as clear and vast as the sky after rain.

Khenpo Tsewang Jigme’s precious teaching has accompanied me ever since. Be relaxed and stay open, neither chasing thoughts nor anticipating any result but simply being aware. This is indeed the most important Buddhist practice.

From “The Path: A Guide to Happiness”